Catherine Lillington meets a community keen to celebrate the Royal wedding with their own street party.
Ron Eamonson flings his arms open wide and laughs as he wishes he could have a thousand guests at his Sutton Coldfield street party.
The former company director is organiser-in-chief of the royal wedding celebrations in his quiet cul-de-sac.
On the day of the wedding the 78-year-old’s road will be just one of 25 in Birmingham to sit down to a tea in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The mock Tudor houses and Royal blue paintwork in Trewman Close might signal it was always going to assemble rows of trestle tables, under lines of bunting, come April 29.
But the locals’ rediscovery of their community spirit only came recently.
Mr Eamonson described how it happened as hundreds of people gathered for a carol service in Walmley last Christmas.
“We all stood around the tree that was festooned with lights and we sang. It was the night of the eclipse, it had started to snow and I said ‘there’s something magical happening in the heavens’.
“It brought a sense of community that the adults hadn’t felt for a long time and, on speaking to the children, they’d never ever felt.
“Our neighbour June Hampton said what a wonderful community atmosphere it had created and she felt that we ought to think about having a street party and I thought well let’s have one for the Royal Wedding.”
Mr Eamonson seems well qualified to organise the event. The former motor industry companies director was awarded an OBE in 2003, for services to the community, especially regeneration and business in Birmingham.
“I believe it’s not that people don’t have a sense of community,” he said. “Communities have been overtaken by the opportunity of doing so many things as individuals. We have got to get back to doing things in a communal way.
“If there is one thing the older generation have got to offer it’s a legacy of community. What I want for the children and its legacy we give them is to go away on that day having experienced something special.”
Mr Eamonson sent a circular to his neighbours in mid-March with a reply slip asking if they would be interested in holding a party.
He has since delegated the other jobs of organising games, food and looking after the kitty of everybody’s £5 donations to his neighbours. His wife, 74-year-old Beryl, is working with a group of women to come up with a feast of finger food.
“I’m surprised and disappointed that many other people haven’t done it because generally there seems to be a lot of people who would like to be at a street party but they said no one has organised one. Why haven’t they?
“Just because there’s a few street parties it doesn’t indicate people aren’t interested in community. I just think that it needs a few more extroverts to say ‘we’ll organise it’.”
The guest list is made up of 37 adults and 15 children from the close as well as nearby Calder Drive and Sherratt Close. Bunting and Union Jack flags will go up early on the day itself.
Then people will start to bring out their own tables and chairs as well as a couple of patio heaters. The party will finally get underway at 2pm after the wedding’s been broadcast.
Mr Eamonson, who will be joined by four of his six grandchildren for the occasion, added: “If nothing else we’re going to have some fun.
“I want those kids to be thinking that was something they’ve never done before.
“They can then lock it away in their memory chest and no one can ever take it away from them. It’s there forever.”
* Top attendance means a date with history for young Max
Mr Eamonson’s grandson Max Miles, a cub scout from Staffordshire, will form part of a procession in Horse Guards Parade as millions tune in to watch the Royal Wedding.
The nine-year-old, from Tamworth, was chosen to join 249 other scouts from around the country for the honour. He will travel to London with members of the 3rd Wilnecote Scout Group who have all been instructed to have polished black shoes and clean ironed neckerchiefs for their appearance.
“Prince William could be king when I get married,” said Max.
“That would be exciting, I could tell my children that I was there for his wedding.”
The Wilnecote Juniors’ schoolboy, who is interested in history, said he was picked to go because of his attendance and neatness record. He added: “I’ll be a bit nervous as well because thousands of people are going to be there but I’ll probably get quite a good view.”
His mother Helen Eamonson, a 42-year-old child care practitioner, said: “We love the royal family. Hopefully we will see him if we watch television carefully.
“We are very, very proud to think he will be there waiting for the bride and groom to come past.”